Best Picture 2018: The Final Five


We have reached 2018 in my posts speculating on a specific piece of Oscar history. As awards followers are aware, 2009 saw the Academy expand the Best Picture category from five movies to ten. That lasted for two years and in 2011, it switched to anywhere from 5-10 with 8 or 9 as the magic numbers for several years. In 2021, the number reverted back to a set ten.

What if that hadn’t happened? What if the BP derby had stayed at a quintet? What pictures would have made the cut? If you missed my write-ups centered on 2009-16, they are linked at the bottom of the post.

2018 is a tricky year to winnow down. In fact, all 8 nominees have strong cases to make the final five. Only one thing is for sure. Peter Farrelly’s Green Book is one of the five considering it won Best Picture. It stands as one of the more surprising (and derided) victors in recent years. The race relations drama went an impressive 3/5 on its nominations – taking Picture, Supporting Actor (Mahershala Ali), and Original Screenplay and missing Actor (Viggo Mortensen) and Film Editing.

So what of the other seven hopefuls? Here’s my speculation:

Black Panther

The only MCU flick (and for that matter comic book adaptation) to score a BP nom was Ryan Coogler’s phenomenon with Chadwick Boseman as the title character. Its seven nominations included three wins for Score, Production Design, and Costume Design.

Does It Make the Final Five?

No. Besides BP, the other six mentions were all technical. It missed directing, any acting inclusions, screenplay, and even editing. It’s hard to leave this out though that’s the case with everything here.

BlacKkKlansman

Spike Lee received his first and only Oscar for his adapted screenplay. That’s the only victory of the night among its six total nods as Lee did make the quintet for direction. The others were Supporting Actor (Adam Driver), Score, and Film Editing.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Had this not taken Adapted Screenplay, I’d leave this off. Yet that win has me (somewhat reluctantly) leaving it in.

Bohemian Rhapsody

Rami Malek was crowned Best Actor for his performance as Queen frontman Freddie Mercury in the biopic. Despite mixed reviews, Rhapsody was successful in four of its five noms. Picture is the only race it didn’t win as it took Actor, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, and Film Editing.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes. That 80% ratio solidifies it even without attention for the direction or screenplay.

The Favourite

The period piece from Yorgos Lanthimos tied all nominees with 10. The lone victory was an unexpected one as Olivia Colman took Best Actress over the favored Glenn Close (The Wife).

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes. Despite the 10% ratio, it still led all contenders with key placements in Director, two Supporting Actress bids (Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz), Original Screenplay, and Editing.

Roma

Alfonso Cuaron was your Best Director in the Mexican drama that was the other picture with 10 nods. It also won Foreign Language Film and Cinematography while contending in Actress (Yalitza Aparicio), Supporting Actress (Marina de Tavira), Original Screenplay, both Sound competitions, and Production Design.

Does It Make the Final Five?

Yes and easily. The Netflix property was supposed to be the streamer’s first BP (they’re still waiting) and was favored before that Book upset.

A Star Is Born

Bradley Cooper’s version of the frequently remade melodrama achieved 8 nominations and one win for the director’s duet with costar Lady Gaga “Shallow” in Original Song. Both Cooper and Gaga were up for their acting as was Sam Elliot in Supporting Actor, Adapted Screenplay, Sound Mixing, and Cinematography.

Does It Make the Final Five?

No, but another tough call. Star‘s shine with voters seemed to dim as the season wore on. This is evidenced by it missing directing and editing.

Vice

This is a good time to point out that all 8 BP hopefuls won at least one statue. Adam McKay’s biopic of former Vice President Cheney (played by Christian Bale) took home the Makeup and Hairstyling award. Other noms were for the direction, Bale, Supporting Actor (Sam Rockwell), Supporting Actress (Amy Adams), Original Screenplay, and Film Editing.

Does It Make the Final Five?

No and I really struggled here. Vice landed mentions everywhere it needed to. The so-so critical reaction made it a tad easier to leave it out. Simply put, this could’ve been in over BlacKkKlansman or Bohemian, but I had to make the judgment call.

So that means my 2018 final five is:

BlacKkKlansman

Bohemian Rhapsody

The Favourite

Green Book

Roma

I’ll have my post for 2019 up soon! The 2009-17 write-ups are here:

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever Review

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever does a commendable job in its treatment of Chadwick Boseman’s 2020 passing. What remains in the sequel feels bloated (161 minutes) and is a significant decline from its 2018 predecessor. The MCU in 2022 has been in a relative rut (Doctor Strange in the Multiverse and Thor: Love and Thunder) and Forever extends that.

I will start by accentuating the aforementioned positive. Director and co-writer Ryan Coogler and his team were obviously faced with a sad and unenviable task of handling the title character’s real life death. King T’Challa’s absence is addressed immediately. The departure is the emotional ripple that causes genuine waves of emotion in the beginning and especially the end.

However, we are left to wonder if the filmmakers would’ve been better off recasting the role. Boseman’s presence and the idea of having a central protagonist is missed in the follow-up. The narrative of Wakanda often feels pulled into too many directions. I found myself wishing to untangle it and cut loose ends.

The plot comes into focus one year after T’Challah’s funeral. Sister Shuri (Letitia Wright) is haunted that her tech skills couldn’t save her sibling. Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett) rules the country with an iron fist. Other nations, including the United States, are jealous of their vibranium hoarding ways. It turns out the precious metal is also present under the surface in the underwater land of Talokan. Their ruler is Namor (Tenoch Huerta) and his legion of Avatar looking subjects are grappling with how to handle their valuable commodity. Namor decides that Wakanda either needs to join him in declaring war on the rest of the world (who want that sweet vibranium) or become a nemesis of the subsurface society.

Namor, as written, is a fairly decent antagonist. Like Michael B. Jordan’s Killmonger in the original, his motives to be “the bad guy” are rather understandable. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has had plenty of forgettable villains. Namor isn’t one, but Huerta also isn’t much of a threatening presence. This is especially true when comparing Namor to Killmonger as there is no comparison.

My biggest gripe is the one item that also hindered the third act of 2018’s adventure. The action sequences are frequently handled in clumsy fashion. They are too dimly lit or the CG happenings are confusing.

There are some welcome returns with Winston Duke as the warrior M’Baku and Danai Gurira as Okoye, leader of Wakanda’s all female fighting force. Lupita Nyong’o is back as Nakia, T’Challah’s love interest. She is summoned back to her native land by Ramonda and Bassett is given a couple of potent monologues as the mourning Queen.

Then there’s Martin Freeman back on duty as CIA agent Everett Ross. This time around, he’s teamed with his boss and ex-wife Val (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) as they are at odds in their views on how to deal with Wakanda. The screenwriters should have dealt them off the page. They could have been eliminated altogether and the only difference would be a thankfully shorter runtime.

For all the working in water happening during Wakanda Forever, the real waterworks occur as Mr. Boseman is honored and those are powerful moments. Too much of the rest doesn’t work at all.

**1/2 (out of four)

Oscar Predictions – Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever hopes to land the biggest opening of 2022 when it debuts this weekend. Disney would also love to see the MCU sequel to 2018’s cultural phenomenon achieve the awards love that its predecessor got. It’s not out of the question that it could.

The review embargo is up today and the Rotten Tomatoes meter is an impressive 90% (under part 1’s 96%). Critics are praising the film’s treatment of the loss of its star Chadwick Boseman in 2020. There is some griping about it being overlong. Few reviews are saying it surpasses the original in terms of quality.

The first Panther was nominated for 7 Academy Awards including Best Picture. Still the only superhero pic to make the BP cut, it took 3 of 7 (Score, Production Design, Costume Design). The other nods were Original Song (“All the Stars” from Kendrick Lamar) and Sound Editing and Sound Mixing (these categories have since been combined).

All 3 races where it won four years ago could pop up this time around. Production Design and Costume Design seem like givens. Sound appears a fairly safe bet. Same with Original Song as Rihanna’s closing credits ballad “Lift Me Up” is a threat to win. Ironically, Mr. Lamar lost in 2018 to Lady Gaga and “Shallow”. Gaga could strike again with “Hold My Hand” from Top Gun: Maverick.

Panther did miss Visual Effects four years back and there were grumbles about the quality. The general consensus is that Wakanda‘s effects are a step up. I don’t think it’s guaranteed to make the VE quintet. However, I do think it has the best shot of the MCU’s 2022 slate (Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and Thor: Love and Thunder are the others).

As for performances, I could see Angela Bassett nabbing some ink. Ultimately I don’t see a second nom materializing nearly 30 years after her first one for What’s Love Got to Do with It.

Now the major question – can Wakanda Forever get a BP nomination? Short answer is yes. Longer answer is more complicated. With Maverick, there’s already one sequel that looks pretty safe. We still have Avatar: The Way of Water and Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery waiting in the wings. I think it’s logical to say we won’t see four sequels in BP. Three seems like a stretch. While I wouldn’t discount Wakanda in the big race, I believe the more feasible scenario is tech nods and possibly 5 to even 7 of them. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever Box Office Prediction

Blogger’s Note (11/09): I am revising my estimate down from $205.2M to $195.2M. As opposed to the narrative below, that would now give it the #9 opening of all time behind its 2018 predecessor.

On November 11th, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever looks to score the second largest opening of the young decade and add another MCU pic to the top 10 debuts of all time. The sequel to 2018’s phenomenon has Ryan Coogler returning to the director’s chair. Early reactions are very positive saying that part 2 pays touching tribute to Chadwick Boseman, who played the title character in the original and passed away in 2020. Letitia Wright, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Winston Duke, Dominique Thorne, Tenoch Huerta, Martin Freeman, and Angela Bassett are among the large cast.

Wakanda is not expected to approach the $260 million that Spider-Man: No Way Home made out of the gate last December. It should, however, get beyond the $191 million that Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness earned in May. If it does, it would land the #2 opening of the decade and the pandemic era.

In February of 2018, Black Panther rode a wave of sizzling buzz to a $202 million start over the Friday to Sunday portion of President’s Day weekend. For the four-day frame, it topped out at $242 million before eventually grossing $700 million domestically. The three-day premiere still stands at #8 all-time while the overall haul is 6th.

I do believe that all the Wakanda stars are lining up for a Friday to Sunday take that surpasses the original by a small margin. My estimate would give the new Panther the #8 opening while moving its predecessor down to ninth. Time will tell if it eventually approaches the $700 million that the first part amassed.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever opening weekend prediction: $195.2 million

Oscar Predictions: Black Adam

Of the ten 10 previous films making up the DC Extended Universe, there’s only one Oscar nomination to be found. That’s the third film in the franchise – 2016’s Suicide Squad – and it’s a win in the Makeup and Hairstyling race.

Black Adam with Dwayne Johnson represents a new chapter in the DCEU as Warner Bros hopes the character becomes a fixture in future installments. Out Friday, the review embargo has lifted and critical reaction is certainly in the mixed variety. The Rotten Tomatoes score stands at 54%.

From Man of Steel up through last summer’s new version of The Suicide Squad, even the competitions where comic book adaptations can contend have escaped awards attention. That includes Best Sound and Visual Effects (where numerous MCU titles have been nominated though never won). From what I’ve seen reaction wise, there’s no reason to think Black Adam would be contending for a second DCEU nod. My Oscar Prediction posts will continue…

Thor: Love and Thunder Review

The 29th time is not the charm for the MCU with Thor: Love and Thunder, a franchise entry meant to be bursting with joy. It somehow feels middling the majority of the time and it’s a significant downgrade from Taika Waititi’s predecessor Thor: Ragnarok from 2017.

Our Asgardian God of a title character (Chris Hemsworth) has been through a lot in the last half of a cinematic decade. He’s lost his family (including Loki more than once) in earlier Thor and Avengers tales. That even caused him to turn to the bottle and humorously pack on the pounds during Avengers: Endgame. 

He found a new lease on life with the Guardians of the Galaxy during those previous Avengers epics. That’s where we find him at the outset, but it doesn’t last long. The Guardians are off on a new adventure while old acquaintances pop up for Thor. Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), who hasn’t been seen since 2013’s The Dark World, reappears in a cancer stricken state. She discovers that her ex’s hammer Mjolnir gives her super strengths. Her old beau needs all the help he can get with a new nemesis. Gorr the God Butcher (Christian Bale) is on a mission to off all the Gods (hence the name) after his own leader causes his young daughter to perish. That killing spree will eventually include Thor and the newish King of Asgard Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson).

In what has become a common theme in Marvel’s stories, the main villain sorta has a point with his murderous schemes. We see that most of the Gods, including Russell Crowe’s Zeus, have turned into lazy do-nothings. However, when Gorr snatches a bunch of Asgardian kids, the fight is on.

Ragnarok was able to find a measured balance between dramatic elements and Waititi’s comedic sensibilities. Thunder feels downright goofy most of the time with its screaming goats and Guns n Roses greatest hits soundtrack playing over the battles. Just a little patience from the director might’ve made it more tolerable. More often than not, it falls into self parody territory. Maybe it’s on purpose. That doesn’t make it worthwhile.

What’s clear is that Waititi was given plenty of freedom to paint his canvass with this fourth official pic in the Thor series. I wish that translated to a more fruitful experience. Thor and Jane’s romance in the first two movies was never exactly a highlight so their reunion left me ambivalent. To be honest, Portman almost seems a bit bored during her transformation to the Mighty Thor. Bale doesn’t seem disinterested but his bad guy is of the one note and forgettable variety.

Thor: Love and Thunder does have a few jokes that land (I chuckled at character mispronouncing Jane’s full name). Yet I couldn’t escape this thought when the credits rolled the first and second and final time… I’d rank this 29th MCU saga 29th.

** (out of four)

September 2-5 Box Office Predictions

Just like last year, the Marvel Cinematic Universe may land atop the charts over Labor Day weekend. This time around, it’ll be with considerably less money… as in, less than one-tenth of what we witnessed in 2021. Spider-Man: No Way Home – The More Fun Stuff Edition (with 11 minutes of extra footage) is scheduled for the widest (re)release of the holiday frame.

Steven Spielberg’s OG summer blockbuster Jaws also returns to cinemas. The only true newcomer is the Regina Hall/Sterling K. Brown satire Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul,, which is also available on streaming via Peacock.

My detailed prediction posts on each are accessible here:

Spider-Man: No Way Home – The More Fun Stuff Edition Box Office Prediction

Jaws Box Office Prediction

Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul. Box Office Prediction

Let’s start with Jesus as I have its $2.4 million projected Friday-Monday offering potentially falling outside of the top ten. There’s a slight chance it could surprise, but I doubt it.

There’s been a narrative developing for awhile that Top Gun: Maverick could manage to return to first position in its 15th week. During Labor Day, popular holdovers do often expand their gross from the previous frame. I expect that will be the case here. However, I do believe Spidey’s 3000 screens (some IMAX) should allow it to swing back to #1 after it originally debuted last December. This should leave the runner-up spot for Maverick or Bullet Train (they should be close). That’s a far cry from this same period in 2021 when Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings decimated the all-time Labor Day record with $94 million.

Jaws is only on a fraction of the webbed superhero’s venues (about 1200) so the possibilities are limited. My estimate of $3.1 million would probably put it in seventh place.

Current champ The Invitation hardly impressed in its premiere (more on that below). With a troubling C Cinemascore grade, expect it to be one of the only leftovers that does see diminished returns. It should drop to at least fourth while the five spot could be close between DC League of Super-Pets and Beast. 

And with that, let’s do a top 7 outlook and keep in mind these numbers are for the four-day holiday:

1. Spider-Man: No Way Home – The More Fun Stuff Edition

Predicted Gross: $7 million

2. Top Gun: Maverick

Predicted Gross: $6.2 million

3. Bullet Train

Predicted Gross: $6 million

4. The Invitation

Predicted Gross: $4.6 million

5. DC League of Super-Pets

Predicted Gross: $4.3 million

6. Beast

Predicted Gross: $4.1 million

7. Jaws

Predicted Gross: $3.1 million

Box Office Results (August 26-28)

I’ll go the obvious route… there weren’t many RSVP’s for YA horror tale The Invitation. This is the first time in 15 months that the #1 pic didn’t manage to make over $10 million. The Invitation stumbled with $6.8 million, below my $8.1 million forecast.

Bullet Train was second with $5.6 million (on target of my $5.5 million call) with an overall take of $78 million.

Top Gun: Maverick was third with $4.7 million (I went with $5.2 million) as the juggernaut has now gathered $691 million. The biggest hit of the year is on a glide path to topple Black Panther ($700 million) next and become the fifth largest domestic earner in history.

Beast had a hefty sophomore drop of 58% for $4.8 million and fourth place. That’s under my $5.7 million prediction. The subpar two-week tally is $20 million.

Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero, as anticipated, plummeted in its second weekend (its genre is extremely front loaded). After a fantastic $21 million start, Hero fell 78% to fifth with $4.6 million (I was more generous at $5 million). After ten days, it’s taken in $30 million stateside.

DC League of Super-Pets was sixth with $4.1 million (I said $4.6 million) for $74 million in its 5 weeks of release.

Finally, George Miller’s Three Thousand Years of Longing was a pricey dud for MGM. The Idris Elba/Tilda Swinton Djinn fantasy, with a reported $60 million budget, opened in 7th with a mere $2.9 million. I thought it could at least manage $4 million. The studio is certainly wishing they hadn’t spent what they did after that performance.

And that does it for now, folks! Until next time…

Spider-Man: No Way Home – The More Fun Stuff Edition Box Office Prediction

After amassing over $800 million at the box office and becoming the third highest domestic grosser of all time, Disney and Marvel are looking to spin more bucks for Spidey on Labor Day weekend. That’s in the form of Spider-Man: No Way Home – The More Fun Stuff Edition. The revamped version contains 11 minutes of additional footage including more of Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield donning the spandex alongside Tom Holland.

Over Labor Day 2021, the MCU made a killing when Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings took in $94 million over the Monday to Friday frame. In 2022, Hollywood seems to be taking the holiday off. This could allow Marvel to hit #1 again with our webbed heroes. Fun is out on approximately 3000 screens and that wide release could allow for a seventh non-consecutive weekend atop the charts.

That said, I don’t expect this to top $10 million. The, um, less fun (?) iteration is already streaming and has been for some time. I don’t imagine a large audience will turn out for 11 extra minutes.

Spider-Man: No Way Home – The More Fun Stuff Edition opening weekend prediction: $7 million (Friday to Monday estimate)

For my Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul. prediction, click here:

Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul. Box Office Prediction

For my Jaws prediction, click here:

Jaws Box Office Prediction

August 12-14 Box Office Predictions

There’s a trio of pics debuting or expanding this weekend, but they could all find themselves outside of the top five. A24’s slasher comedy Bodies Bodies Bodies hopes to build on its impressive NY/LA limited release while the Diane Keaton comedy Mack & Rita and survival thriller Fall premiere. You can peruse my detailed prediction posts on them here:

Bodies Bodies Bodies Box Office Prediction

Mack & Rita Box Office Prediction

Fall Box Office Prediction

Both Bodies and Fall are expected to hit around 1200 screens. That’s low and limits their range. Let’s start with Fall as its lack of promotion could find it failing to even make $1 million. I’m projecting $1.2 million and that obviously leaves it well outside the high five (and ten for that matter).

Bodies is a bit tougher to figure out. In six venues in our nation’s two largest cities, it took in a robust per screen average of nearly $40k. Yet as I mentioned in my individual post, I’m skeptical that this plays well in the middle of the country. My $4.4 million estimate also leaves it on the outside looking in.

Mack & Rita also seems to be suffering from lack of awareness. I’m only going with $2.3 million as this should come and go in multiplexes quickly.

With the newcomers out of the way, that leaves holdovers to talk about. Sony’s Bullet Train with Brad Pitt opened right on track with reasonable expectations (more on that below) and it should have no trouble remaining in the top spot again. With minimal competition, it could slide in the mid 40s in the best case scenario. That said, if you look at action titles of early August past, a drop in the low 50s to mid 50s seems just as likely. DC League of Super-Pets should stay in second… with a caveat.

If Top Gun: Maverick continues percentage drops in the teens (and there’s no reason to think it won’t), it should re-enter the top 5. Nope could drop out altogether with Thor: Love and Thunder and Minions: The Rise of Gru battling it out for the 4 spot alongside Bodies Bodies Bodies. There’s even a chance Maverick could go from #6 to #2.

Here’s how I see the charts playing out and I’ll expand it to a top ten this time around:

1. Bullet Train

Predicted Gross: $14.1 million

2. DC League of Super-Pets

Predicted Gross: $7.2 million

3. Top Gun: Maverick

Predicted Gross: $6.2 million

4. Thor: Love and Thunder

Predicted Gross: $5.4 million

5. Minions: The Rise of Gru

Predicted Gross: $5.2 million

6. Bodies Bodies Bodies

Predicted Gross: $4.4 million

7. Nope

Predicted Gross: $4.2 million

8. Where the Crawdads Sing

Predicted Gross: $4.1 million

9. Elvis

Predicted Gross: $2.6 million

10. Easter Sunday

Predicted Gross: $2.5 million

11. Mack & Rita

Predicted Gross: $2.3 million

Box Office Results (August 5-7)

Bullet Train came in right where I thought it would with $30 million (my call  was $29.7 million). While it certainly didn’t exceed expectations, it’s a perfectly decent opening and its overseas grosses are solid. The B+ Cinemascore indicates a somewhat fair-weather reaction so it’s worth monitoring how it holds up. As mentioned, the lack of competition should help.

DC League of Super-Pets had a stiffer sophomore fall than I anticipated with $11 million compared to my $13.6 million take. The two-week total is a muted $44 million.

Nope saw a drop of over 50% once again with $8.5 million, in range with my $8.1 million prediction. The three-week tally is approaching nine digits at $97 million.

Thor: Love and Thunder was fourth at $7.7 million (I said $8.3 million) as the MCU sequel became the highest pic in the franchise by eclipsing 2017’s Ragnarok. Total is $316 million.

Minions: The Rise of Gru rounded out the top five with $7.1 million (I went with $6.9 million) for a $334 million haul.

Finally, the Jo Koy comedy Easter Sunday struggled in its start in 8th place with $5.4 million, just under my $5.6 million estimate.

And that does it for now, folks! Until next time…

Summer 2012: The Top 10 Hits and More

My look back at the cinematic summers of 30, 20, and 10 years ago culminates with 2012. A decade ago, the Marvel Cinematic Universe went from a successful franchise to the phenomenal juggernaut that it remains today. That’s due to the release of a little something called The Avengers. On a side note, it’s worth mentioning that the biggest grosser 30 years ago (Batman Returns), two decades ago (Spider-Man), and in this post all share comic book roots.

Before we get to Iron Man and company, I’ll recount the other features in the top ten moneymakers before covering additional notable titles and some flops. If you missed my write-ups about the seasons of 1992 and 2002, you can find them here:

Summer 1992: The Top 10 Hits and More

Summer 2002: The Top 10 Hits and More

10. Prometheus

Domestic Gross: $126 million

Some three decades after Alien terrified audiences, Ridley Scott returned to the franchise. However, this was more of a mixed bag in terms of critical and audience reaction. The production design and Michael Fassbender’s performance were praised while the script drew its share of critics. Nevertheless Scott would be back in the mix five years later with Alien: Covenant. 

9. Snow White and the Huntsman 

Domestic Gross: $155 million

Hot off the Twilight franchise and hot off playing Thor in The Avengers, Kristen Stewart and Chris Hemsworth battled Prometheus costar Charlize Theron’s evil stepmom in this fantasy adventure. Reviews were so-so but it performed well enough to warrant a less appreciated prequel The Huntsman: Winter’s War in 2016.

8. Ice Age: Continental Drift 

Domestic Gross: $161 million

The fourth entry in the animated franchise featuring the vocal stylings of Ray Romano and John Leguizamo kept the grosses hot. Sequel Collision Course would follow four years later.

7. Men in Black 3

Domestic Gross: $179 million

The third teaming of Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones (with Josh Brolin playing a convincing younger version of him) earned $11 million less than 2002’s part II. That sequel made less than the 1997 original. The series was revamped in 2019 with Men in Black: International with none other than Chris Hemsworth, but audiences tuned out.

6. Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted

Domestic Gross: $216 million

Ben Stiller and Chris Rock returned for the third time voicing their respective lion and zebra. Spin-off Penguins of Madagascar came out two years later while a proper fourth entry never materialized from DreamWorks.

5. Ted

Domestic Gross: $218 million

Moving from Fox’s hugely successful animated sitcom Family Guy the big screen, Seth MacFarlane’s story of Mark Wahlberg and his crude talking bear Ted was the breakout comedy of the season. Follow-ups A Million Ways to Die in the West and the Ted sequel were not as well received.

4. Brave

Domestic Gross: $237 million

The first Pixar film led by a female hero is also the inaugural studio entry (co)directed by a woman. It would go on to win Best Animated Feature at the Oscars.

3. The Amazing Spider-Man

Domestic Gross: $262 million

After not moving forward with a fourth title directed by Sam Raimi and starring Tobey Maguire, the Spidey franchise was rebooted with Marc Webb behind the camera and Andrew Garfield donning the red. The dollars followed although reviews were mixed and a 2014 sequel was widely considered a disappointment.

2. The Dark Knight Rises

Domestic Gross: $448 million

While perhaps not quite reaching the heights of 2008’s The Dark Knight, the culmination to Christopher Nolan’s trilogy sent Christian Bale’s Caped Crusader off in stirring fashion and with hugely profitable earnings.

1. The Avengers

Domestic Gross: $623 million

Setting record after record upon release, the melding of Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Hulk, Black Widow, and Hawkeye transfixed filmgoers. It’s been Marvel’s world and we’ve been living in it ever since.

And now for some other pics worthy of discussion:

Magic Mike

Domestic Gross: $113 million

Steven Soderbergh’s saga of male exotic dancers was based loosely on Channing Tatum’s real life experiences. It turned him into a superstar while giving Matthew McConaughey a memorable showcase. The micro budgeted pic (a reported $7 million) spawned a 2015 sequel and there’s a third scheduled to hit HBO Max next year.

The Bourne Legacy

Domestic Gross: $113 million

Audiences weren’t clamoring for Jeremy Renner to replace Matt Damon in this franchise, but the stateside and overseas grosses were still pretty acceptable. That said, Renner’s tenure lasted this pic and this pic only.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Domestic Gross: $46 million

While it performed even better overseas, this British import with Judi Dench  was a sleeper hit stateside that begat a 2015 sequel.

Moonrise Kingdom 

Domestic Gross: $45 million

Wes Anderson scored with critics and crowds with this coming-of-age dramedy that premiered at Cannes and then found an audience in the weeks that followed.

Beasts of the Southern Wild

Domestic Gross: $12 million

This indie drama from Benh Zeitlin was truly a little movie that could. Shot for under $2 million, it eventually nabbed Oscar nods for Picture, Director, Actress (Quvanzhane Wallis at age 9), and Adapted Screenplay.

They’re not all winners so let’s get into some critical and/or commercial failures from the period:

Dark Shadows

Domestic Gross: $79 million

Johnny Depp’s box office happy days were beginning to fade as his 8th collaboration with Tim Burton was perhaps the least memorable. This horror comedy failed to enlighten viewers.

Battleship

Domestic Gross: $65 million

Action fans weren’t taken with this Peter Berg directed board game adaptation starring Liam Neeson and Rihanna with a bloated budget of over $200 million.

Total Recall

Domestic Gross: $58 million

And your action sci-fi fans weren’t signing up for Colin Farrell taking over for Arnold Schwarzenegger in this unneeded remake.

Rock of Ages

Domestic Gross: $38 million

Based on the Broadway musical, there was a deaf ear turned to this adaptation despite Tom Cruise getting solid notices for his performance. Lucky for him, he’d rule this current summer with Top Gun: Maverick. 

That’s My Boy

Domestic Gross: $36 million

Adam Sandler and Andy Samberg’s comedic partnership drew a 20% Tomatoes meter and ambivalence from usually devoted Sandler fans.

The Watch

Domestic Gross: $35 million

That wasn’t the only high-profile comedic flop as this sci-fi mashup with Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, and Jonah Hill fared even worse in numbers and rotten reviews (17% RT).

And that’ll close it out, ladies and gents! It’s been a pleasure revising these cinematic seasons of days past.